From left to right: California State Treasurer John Chiang, Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, MEBO International CEO Kevin Xu, Grifols Biologicals Inc. President Willie Zuñiga, President William A. Covino, National Rongxiang Xu Foundation Chairman Dr. Li, former Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, and Cal State LA Vice President Jose A. Gomez.
A Legacy Continues
Dr. Rongxiang Xu dedicated his life to serving others. Through his family’s gift to Cal State LA, his contributions continue.
BY GWENDOLYN GABRIELLE
On the final day of Commencement, President William A. Covino stood on stage at the University Athletic Stadium and made the kind of announcement no other president before him had made.
“I’m proud to announce that the College of Health and Human Services has been renamed the Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services,” Covino said to an audience of thousands last June.
The gathering of soon-to-be graduates, friends, family, faculty and staff erupted in applause.
Several officials, including Congressman Xavier Becerra, California Treasurer John Chiang, Congresswoman Judy Chu and Chinese Counsel General Liu Jian, were also in the audience.
That announcement marked the start of a new era in giving for the University. The Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services is now the first named college at Cal State LA. The naming recognizes the largest gift in the University’s history.
“That gift will enable Cal State LA to realize many dreams, including constructing the Rongxiang Xu Bioscience Innovation Center, the building that will house LA BioSpace,” Cal State LA Vice President Jose A. Gomez announced at the groundbreaking for the center.
The LA BioSpace incubator will allow startup bioscience companies to collaborate with Cal State LA students and faculty to develop new technologies.
The gift from the National Rongxiang Xu Foundation commemorates the extraordinary contributions of Dr. Rongxiang Xu, a scientist, surgeon, inventor and humanitarian, who passed away in 2015. Xu’s breakthroughs helped alleviate the pain and improve the outcomes of countless burn patients.
“To heal patients and eliminate their suffering was my father’s greatest dream,” says Kevin Xu, a business leader and entrepreneur who is the son of Xu. “Through this commitment, I want a new generation of professionals to inherit my father’s spirit of saving others from suffering and pain.”
Kevin Xu and his mother, Dr. Li, were awarded the Presidential Medallion at the 2016 Commencement.
Xu grew up in a poor family in rural China. When he was 3 years old, he was so malnourished he almost died, according to his biography. A village cadre helped save Xu’s life by sharing his ration.
That early experience fueled Xu’s desire to help others. After high school he studied medicine at the Qingdao Medical College in China.
“He didn’t have a lot of resources and opportunities to become a success,” says Kevin Xu. “Eventually the people who believed in him provided him the opportunity and the platform [to succeed].”
After witnessing the pain and scarring burn patients endured, Xu set out to discover a less painful treatment approach. Through innovative research in tissue repair, Xu developed a burn therapy for patients that restores the structure and function of the skin, resulting in less pain, illness and death.
“My father spent every day of his life dedicated to helping others,” recalls Kevin Xu, who refers to his father as a true hero.
In 1987, Xu’s research led to the founding of MEBO International, which is the operational base of Moist Exposed Burn Ointment, the world-renowned regenerative medical technology for burns, wounds and ulcers. Today, more than 200,000 doctors around the world use MEBO technologies and products.
Three U.S. presidents—Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush—have recognized Xu’s groundbreaking achievements. USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology will be home to the Rongxiang Xu Center for Regenerative Life Science. Harvard Medical School houses the Rongxiang Xu, M.D., Center of Regenerative Therapeutics within Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
The National Rongxiang Xu Foundation is also a major supporter of the Rongxiang Xu Bioscience Innovation Center at Cal State LA. The groundbreaking for the new center was held on Nov. 18.
Hundreds attended the ceremony, including several industry leaders, as well as elected officials Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, Chu, Chiang, Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez and former Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who helped secure the first major grant for the bioscience incubator. Wilfred Marshall of the Economic Development Administration, which provided a grant to the incubator, was also present.
“LA BioSpace will give our students and faculty the chance to work with entrepreneurs to put Los Angeles at the forefront of the bioscience industry,” says Vice President Gomez, who chairs the LA BioSpace Advisory Board. “This will create jobs and new opportunities for the communities we serve.”
For Kevin Xu, the gathering marked the birth of a “bioscience ecosystem,” a collective of organizations and institutions committed to building a flourishing industry.
“This…is an ecosystem that will be able to work together, and that way we can truly turn around the community,” Kevin Xu says.
The center will support pioneering research and innovation. Inside the two-story, nearly 21,000-square-foot building, students, faculty and local entrepreneurs will work together, sharing their expertise and knowledge.
The Rongxiang Xu Bioscience Innovation Center will become a resource for scientists and innovators, and it will help Cal State LA become a leader in the region’s growing bioscience industry. The center, along with the newly named college, will continue Xu’s legacy.
The spirit of a hero never dies, Kevin Xu says: “Their spirit is passed down as a heritage that transforms generation after generation.”
Gwendolyn Gabrielle is a graduate student majoring in television, film and theatre with a focus in dramatic writing.
School of Nursing named for alumna Patricia A. Chin
In December the University announced that it has received a $7 million gift that will name the Patricia A. Chin School of Nursing and establish the Chin Family Institute for Nursing.
This transformative gift comes from Dr. Patricia Chin and her husband, William Chin, M.D. Patricia Chin is a Cal State LA alumna who earned her bachelor’s degree in 1980 and master's degree in 1984. She was also the director of the Cal State LA School of Nursing and was named emerita faculty upon her retirement from the University.
Patricia Chin has been a strong supporter of the University for more than 30 years. William Chin was a founding partner and executive medical director of HealthCare Partners, LLC.
The Chins’ gift will endow the Chin Family Institute for Nursing and create a state-of-the-art nursing simulation lab in the Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services.
“As U.S. health care evolves to improve the quality and access to patients and reduce the waste in our health care system, it is nursing that will be the catalyst for this change,” Patricia Chin said.
Cal State LA President William A. Covino thanked the Chins for their generosity.
“Their assistance will enable the University to continue to be a national leader in nursing education and ensure student success and academic distinction for years to come,” Covino said.
Ron Vogel, dean of the Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services, noted that the nursing master’s degree program has been ranked consistently during the past decade as one of the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
“This extraordinary gift will allow our prominence to grow,” Vogel said.